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Why Bing Ads is STILL Underutilized

19 Dec Why Bing Ads is STILL Underutilized

Bing Ads New Forum User MessageAs we discussed in our last post, we’ve been using Bing a lot more lately. Not only is it a better experience for certain personal searches, it’s advertising platform, now Bing Adsdoes have some redeeming qualities. For clients’ PPC accounts I manage, I most often see that Bing delivers more qualified traffic (higher on-site conversion rates), and lower overall costs-per-acquisition, than Google Adwords. The Bing Ads network (Yahoo and Bing) does claim it gets 30% of global searches, but that is not the case with advertising. Our few clients that are really leveraging Bing Ads and maximizing on potential impressions/clicks still only see 10 – 15% of their paid search volume coming in from Bing. So… why hasn’t Bing Ads been able to keep up with the competition (Google)?

Why are Bing Ads still so underutilized?

Because Microsoft continues to under-deliver on the user experience for Bing Ads users. I’ve been using both Bing Ads (through all of its derivative name changes) and Google Adwords for 6 years now, about as far back as Bing Ads go – back to 2006.

While Adwords has had plenty of UI gaffs over the years, they’ve at least remedied them and built out an all around excellent UI. They still pull stunts like removing features (soon pulling out “impression share” analysis) that I use and love, in an effort to make more money for themselves, but at least their UI and desktop editor are overall excellent tools that I enjoy using.

Microsoft, on the other hand, hasn’t been able to deliver a good user experience with their ad products. Instead of fine tuning their product, and introducing the level of granularity in reporting and tweaking that PPC managers need to optimize their ads, they’ve simply kept the same thing (with all its flaws) and instead tried to make it attractive with a new brand name every few years, and new user interface (with little to no added functionality).

This is really starting to sound like a rant – and I hate reading rants with no justifiable underpinnings. So, let me give you one of many examples I’ve had recently with Bing Ads…

My rendition of “Bing Ads, the ugly step child”

One of our larger clients is doing pretty well with Bing Ads. However, in generating some reports we recently noticed that last month’s impressions saw an enormous spike for one of their branded terms. We’re talking 37,000 impressions during the spike month versus a few hundred for the month previous. We hadn’t made any changes to that particular ad group, and the actual ad group was still performing well… same volume of clicks and spend… just a huge number of impressions. After an hour of looking through their account and seeing no reason why this could happen (especially since Google Adwords doesn’t see nearly this level of impressions for the same keyword), I decided to give Bing Ads support a call. And here begins my wild and adventurous run-in with the ugly step-child, Bing.

After just about 30 seconds of dialing through prompts, I was speaking with Marcus, who sounded like he was stationed here in the US of A. Not bad… After explaining the issue, and telling him I thought it may be an error in the Bing Ads reporting, he put me on hold while he rebooted his computer. He was having problems with his browser generating Bing Ads reports for my account. Hmm… sounds like an issue I face every time I try to run Bing Ads reports. After his reboot he kindly explained to me what impressions were. <sarcasm>I was really glad he did that, as impressions is one of the more complex parts of SEM.</sarcasm> He then walked me through how to run a report so I could see how the keyword was performing. I’m not sure why he thought I needed him to walk me through that, as I was obviously already calling in about the issue that I had identified. But at least he was trying to be helpful. I then explained to him how he could get a daily snapshot of this particular keyword’s performance so he could see the same report I had originally run. I explained again that the problem occurred on November 9th. Previous to the 9th, this keyword was getting around 30 impressions a day. After the 9th it was getting over 1,000 impressions a day.

Now for the best part. I asked him again, whether he thought it was an error in reporting, or perhaps there was a tool out there scraping through Bing that has been running this keyword through it over and over again. He ensured me that Bing Ads do not have errors, and then asked me if I knew what Black Friday was. I ensured him that I did, but he still went on to tell me about Black Friday and what it means for online retailers. He then explained that the spike in impressions was due to an increase in Black Friday traffic. I did not tell him that our product is strictly B2B. Nor did I tell him that we don’t run Black Friday deals. I also chose not to embarrass him by reminding him that Black Friday didn’t occur for a few weeks after this spike in traffic.

I had already spent 30 minutes on the phone with him, and stayed late after work to try and resolve this problem. I wasn’t going to spend more time with Bing trying to resolve a problem that obviously wasn’t going anywhere. So, I told him thank you and that I’d look into it some more. He asked me if my problem had been resolved, and I told him it had for now, and that I’d look into it again tomorrow. And here I am… still without an answer.

This morning when I got into the office I decided I’d post my question to the Bing Ads Community Forum, and get opinions of my peers and hopefully some more knowledgeable Microsoft employees to respond to my forum post as well. Here goes my big beef with their UI.

You’d think that by clicking the support button in the Bing Ads console, and then clicking the forum link would take you to the forum so you could leave your post. Nope. Even though its a forum dedicated to Bing Ads users, it’s authentication access system isn’t tied into the actual Bing Ads tool, so I’ve got to log in again. And no, even though you would think your Bing Ads login would work in the forum login, it doesn’t. You need a new account for that. So, I set up my new account. Then I verified my email on that new account even though I had already verified it for Bing Ads. Upon verification, I got a pleasant message something along the lines of “Thank you for verifying your email – now click the button below to go back to where you were.” So, I click the button, fully expecting to be taken into the Bing Ads forum. Again… nope. It takes me to the Bing Ads forum login page where I need to sign up again, this time specifically for the Bing Ads forum. “After all the sweat equity I’ve put into this process, I’m surely going to be given a golden star as soon as a log in,” I think to myself. Nope. Instead, Bing serves me a broken page (screenshot above) telling me that I’m welcome but only as welcome as someone who they’re willing to serve broken pages to. 🙂

Gotta’ love Bing. This is why Bing It On is not going to actually Bring It On for Microsoft. Until they learn to deliver polished products, they’ll still remain underutilized.

Ben Beck
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